Is cohabitation scandalous even if chaste? (Part II)


#1

I’ve been disussing this on this thread: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=18488 I am posting it anew because I said I would not post on that thread again.

I maintained that chaste cohabitation is sinful becuase it is still scandalous. I quoted the CCC in support (without a link):

2284 Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.

2287 Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!”

Not convinced by this, I was asked for official Church documentation that supported this. I linked to the Vatican Document: FAMILY, MARRIAGE AND “DE FACTO” UNIONS

And also linked a document from the Kansas Bishops: Cohabitation Before Marriage and quoted from it:

  1. For society: As society no longer adheres to traditional moral values and norms, scandal becomes less and less of a concern to many people. Even so, the church still teaches clearly and consistently that premarital sexual intercourse objectively is mortally sinful. Couples who live together, even if they are not engaging in premarital sexual relations, give the impression to the community that such an arrangement is totally acceptable.

Note that it specifically mentions Chaste cohabitation as unacceptable.

My debate opponent labeled the last quote “silly” with no explanation why.

to be continued…


#2

Then I did something, which in retrospect, I should have been more careful. I quoted the Pennsylvania Bishop’s document without a link:

People can be wrong in matters of conscience, and people often are. Where our self-interest is concerned, our capacity for self-deception is huge. Here, as in everything we do, we need an objective standard to tell us if our conscience is properly formed and able to make right judgments. Morality is not a matter of opinion or “gut feeling.” Conscience is God’s voice, speaking the truth deep within your heart. It’s unlikely - if not impossible - that God would contradict His own commandments just for your convenience or desires. You are acting in good conscience when you choose to do what God intends. The choice to live together outside a marriage is always wrong and sinful.

Here is the link: catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=1212

I quoted it merely to lend support to the general idea of the wrongfulness of cohabitation, and that personal conscience does not trump the teaching. Alas, I should have both explained its point and linked it.

By not linking the document, It was suggested that I was dishonest and misleading and that the document said nothing of the specific scenario of chaste cohabitation. I fully agree that this document only considers living together as a sexual relationship. And I should have taken the time to both link it and explain its presence. I deny the suggestion that I was being dishonest. I was hasty in not linking and I should have read the document more carefully and anticipated the objection. If someone was mislead I apologize. That was not my intention.

Since my opponent thinks that last quote was so cheesy, I invite everyone to disregard it as bearing on the debate. I do that because even without it, I contend my argument still stands unanswered. There is still the “silly” Kansas quote that specifically condemns the chaste cohabitation scenario.

I ask everyone if I have made a reasonable case, and if not, show me where I am wrong.

Thanks,

Scott


#3

Scott:

Thanks for clearing up the Pennsylvania bishops’ business. It speaks highly of you that you’re willing to admit error.

Carry on.

PP


#4

I have difficulty with this, but I really feel for sincere unmarried Catholic couples. Marriage is really pushed to be postponed, from so many sources. I don’t believe in extended engagement periods, over 9 months. If you feel mere cohabitating is wrong, then you shouldn’t encourage couples to postpone engagement or marriage.


#5

Cohabition, if chaste, is not a sin…unless it is scandalous. To be scandalous, it must cause others to sin (right?).

So, if a bed-ridden man lives with his (female) nurse (cohabitation), but it is a chaste relationship and the community understands it as such, then we are all ok - right?

I guess any situation may be sinful given the possibility of causing scandal…


#6

[quote=Penny Plain]Scott:

Thanks for clearing up the Pennsylvania bishops’ business. It speaks highly of you that you’re willing to admit error.

Carry on.

PP
[/quote]

Well, that’s not *too * condescending now, is it?

I believe I am in basic agree with you, Scott. 1) A living arrangement 2) outside of marriage that 3) has a good probability of giving the impression of cohabitation, and 4) thereby does, in fact, give the impression of cohabitation outside of marriage may be sinful, provided the other requirements of sin are present (knowledge, intent, choice, etc.).


#7

[quote=The Barrister]Well, that’s not *too *condescending now, is it?

I believe I am in basic agree with you, Scott. 1) A living arrangement 2) outside of marriage that 3) has a good probability of giving the impression of cohabitation, and 4) thereby does, in fact, give the impression of cohabitation outside of marriage may be sinful, provided the other requirements of sin are present (knowledge, intent, choice, etc.).
[/quote]

But is it the Catholic couples fault, that secular society wouldn’t take their word that they are chase?


#8

[quote=kieron]Cohabition, if chaste, is not a sin…unless it is scandalous. To be scandalous, it must cause others to sin (right?).

So, if a bed-ridden man lives with his (female) nurse (cohabitation), but it is a chaste relationship and the community understands it as such, then we are all ok - right?

I guess any situation may be sinful given the possibility of causing scandal…
[/quote]

Sorry, but either you have a skewed understanding of sin, in which case you are in need of extensive catechesis, or you intentionally gave a rather ridiculous example.


#9

[quote=renee1258]But is it the Catholic couples fault, that secular society wouldn’t take their word that they are chase?
[/quote]

Read the whole response:

I believe I am in basic agree with you, Scott. 1) A living arrangement 2) outside of marriage that 3) has a good probability of giving the impression of cohabitation, and 4) thereby does, in fact, give the impression of cohabitation outside of marriage may be sinful, provided the other requirements of sin are present (knowledge, intent, choice, etc.).


#10

A married couple that had a prior marriage that is not annulled are, in fact cohabiting, in the eyes of the Church. Yet this is allowed if they live as brother and sister. Is this not at least one case where there is no scandal from co-habitation?


#11

[quote=kieron]Cohabition, if chaste, is not a sin…unless it is scandalous. To be scandalous, it must cause others to sin (right?).

[/quote]

The occurrence of sin is not necessary for something to cause scandal. The illusion of acceptance of wrong doing is sufficient.


#12

[quote=pnewton]A married couple that had a prior marriage that is not annulled are, in fact cohabiting, in the eyes of the Church. Yet this is allowed if they live as brother and sister. Is this not at least one case where there is no scandal from co-habitation?
[/quote]

This may be the case where the current marriage even if invalid is known to many people. Therefore to seperate would both cause scandal and possible harm the children (if any). If many people know they are in an invalid remarriage situation and see them receiving Communion (for example) without knowing they are living chastely, this could also be a cause for scandal. It would have to be case by case. I have heard of couples in this situation who are advised to receive Communion only at parishes where they are not well known if they don’t want to air all of their personal business to others.

But to the original question, yes, I believe it is sinful to live together before marriage even chastely provided all conditions for serious sin are met. I know very few people who understand the whole concept of scandal as a sin so in many cases, the conditions would not be met.


#13

The occurrence of sin is not necessary for something to cause scandal.

It might still be a scandalous action on my part if I anticipate that someone might sin as a result of my action. It is not necessary for that someone to actually sin for me to have to worry about having done something scandalous.

If I tell lies to my mother-in-law in front of my kids, I am risking that my kids will learn to tell lies. It doesn’t matter if my kids go out and tell lies or not, I have still risked that they will, and I have sinned by lying, so I am now in for the sin of lying and the sin of scandal.

When contemplating the scandalousness of an action, there are two categories. The action that is a sin and is also a scandal, and the action that is okay by itself but might be a scandal to someone anyway. The first is never okay. The other one has nuance on it.

Think about the Catholic who had a divorce and is remarried, but is living in a part of the country (they’ve moved) where nobody knows about the divorce part. So they could live with their “spouse” and it would not cause scandal because no one would know about the issue. So if that Catholic lived as brother and sister with their “spouse” I don’t see a scandal problem or a sin problem.


#14

I think it can be scandalous, because most are going to assume the couple is not chaste. I generally assume most couples who live together have a sexual relationship (married or cohabitating) unless they tell me otherwise. Maybe I am wrong in thinking this way, but that’s the way I feel. The problem is, I doubt most cohabitating couples are going to tell everyone they meet they are chaste,after all it would be a little odd to say such a thing to a coworker or whatever to begin with, which is where the scandal comes in. I personally feel I would also be showing disrespect to our families by living together even if I planned to be chaste, although I felt this way even before I started to take my faith seriously!

Besides, trying to live together as brother and sister, especially if you don’t already have children and have more free time, would be very difficult IMO. Too much opportunity for temptation!


#15

I will not draw from a bishop comment or letter on the subjct of cohabitation, I will use common sence and experience.

(Sure, cohabitations gives rise to scandal, any decent Priest would tell you it is wrong)

My example is not about cohabitation, it is behavior at a football game. For example lets say a husband, who was sitting with his wife, goes for a Coke at halftime and bumps into a woman he knows. He comes back to the stands and sits with that women until the end of the game. Do you think the people who know him will wonder what is going on? Do you think the man’s wife will be happy about what he did? The answer is No. It was a mild form of cohabitation or worse.


#16

I submitted this question to the “Ask an Apologist” forum. It has been answered. I would post a link if I knew how.


#17

[quote=Penny Plain]I submitted this question to the “Ask an Apologist” forum. It has been answered. I would post a link if I knew how.
[/quote]

Here: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=18880


#18

I think we’re missing something obvious, here.

Chaste is what EVERYONE – including married couples – are called to be.

“Chaste” is not the same thing as “celibate.”

CHASTE:

Main Entry: chaste
Pronunciation: 'chAst
Function: adjective
Inflected Form(s): chast·er; chast·est
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, from Latin castus pure
1 : innocent of unlawful sexual intercourse
2 : CELIBATE
3 : pure in thought and act : MODEST
4 a : severely simple in design or execution : AUSTERE b : CLEAN, SPOTLESS

  • chaste·ly adverb
  • chaste·ness /'chAs(t)-n&s/ noun
    synonyms CHASTE, PURE, MODEST, DECENT mean free from all taint of what is lewd or salacious. CHASTE primarily implies a refraining from acts or even thoughts or desires that are not virginal or not sanctioned by marriage vows . PURE differs from CHASTE in implying innocence and absence of temptation rather than control of one’s impulses and actions . MODEST and DECENT apply especially to deportment and dress as outward signs of inward chastity or purity <decent people didn’t go to such movies>.

CELIBATE:

One entry found for celibacy.

Main Entry: cel·i·ba·cy
Pronunciation: 'se-l&-b&-sE
Function: noun
1 : the state of not being married
2 a : abstention from sexual intercourse b : abstention by vow from marriage


#19

[quote=Scott Waddell]Here: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=18880
[/quote]

Thank you Penny and Scott. I think Michelle gave a great and accurate answer. It can be, but only rarely. This link is worth following.


#20

other people’s living arrangements are nobody’s danged business. a Christian is bound in charity to place the kindest possible interpretation on any thing observed about another’s behavior.


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